Using Stress-Inflammatory Medication Successfully Reduced Metastatic Spread


Using a stress-inflammatory medication treatment around the time of tumor removal surgery in colorectal cancer patients, successfully reduced metastatic spread.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University (TAU) were able to reduce body stress responses and physiological inflammation during the surgery. The result was significant. They succeeded to prevent the development of metastases in the years following the surgery.

The study, which published in Cancer, lasted three years with 34 patients. the participants received treatment surrounding colorectal tumor removal surgery.

Starting 5 days before and 15 days after the surgical period, the patients were administered two known and safe drugs. Etodolac (Etopan), an anti-inflammatory analgesic, and Propranolol (Deralin), an anti-anxiety and blood pressure reducing drug. Half of the patients receiving a placebo treatment, as a control group.

The results were highly promising. Only 12.5% (2 out of 16) of the participants who received the drug treatment exhibited metastatic disease. In the control group, the placebo-treated, 33% (6 out of 18 patients), developed metastases which is the known rate for colorectal cancer patients.

Lead researcher Prof. Shamgar Ben-Eliyahu from TAU School of Psychological Sciences and Sagol School of Neuroscience says said that he is highly satisfied with these data. He added that “despite the impressive results, this treatment must be examined again, in a much larger number of patients, in order to test whether it is, in fact, life-saving”.

According to Prof. Ben-Eliyahu, the study of molecular markers in the cancerous tissue excised from the patients showed that the treatment with the medications has led to a reduction in the metastatic potential of the tumor and potentially the residual cancer cells.

In addition, the drugs triggered some beneficial alterations in infiltrating tumor leukocytes (patients’ white blood cells) number and type — which are also markers indicating a reduced chance of disease recurrence.

Prof. Ben-Eliyahu explains: “When the body is in a state of stress, whether physiological (from surgery) or psychological, this causes a release of high amounts of two types of hormones, prostaglandins and catecholamines. These hormones suppress the activity of the immune cells, thus indirectly promoting the development of cancer metastases. In addition, these hormones also directly promote the acquisition of metastatic traits in cancer tissue. Our study shows that inexpensive, accessible medication treatment could be used in order to reduce body stress responses and inflammation associated with surgery, which affects the tumor, significantly reducing the risk of metastases that might be detected months or years after surgery.”

Following the success of the initial research, Prof. Ben-Eliyahu and co-author Prof. Oded Zmora from Shamir (Assaf Harofeh) Medical Center, encourage Israeli colorectal and pancreatic cancer patients, intended for surgery, to apply for participation in a large-scale clinical study which is now starting across the state in eight different medical centers — in order to save lives.

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